The island of Crete, during the period of Venetian rule, developed a poetic tradition unparalleled anywhere else in the Greek-speaking world. In this paper we shall be concerned only with poetry in the vernacular, whether in a systematically cultivated form of the local dialect, or in a more universal kind of Greek which at times also admitted learned or ecclesiastical words or grammatical forms; verse written wholly in archaic Greek which would have been unintelligible to the uneducated is outside the scope of this paper. Necessarily we are dealing with written texts, both manuscript and printed. The evidence for such a tradition begins in or around the 1370s with the poems of Stefanos Sachlikis (the manuscripts are of later date): satire, verse autobiography and didactic poetry are the principal genres. The tradition continues until the capture of the island by the Turks, completed in 1669. The corpus of Cretan poetic texts is not large but it embraces a variety of genres, including religious, consolatory, erotic and narrative verse, and it includes a number of works of high poetic merit. From the 1580s drama is added to the genres cultivated and the period from then until 1669 marks the ‘zenith of Renaissance literature in Greece’ (L. Politis 1973:52).